December 23, 2015

With marvelous meals and grand gatherings just around the corner, holiday delightful can easily become holiday disaster without appropriate preparation. This is also true with regards to health and wellness. We know that disasters are unpredictable, place millions of lives at risk, and cause billions of dollars of damage. ( US Department of Homeland Security , 2015) Yet, many families may be spending more time preparing for the holidays than preparing for disasters.

The shrill ring of the now-care phone line in the emergency department demands attention because something is coming. The buzz of the department seems to quiet as the Charge Nurse responds to the call and begins to jot down the details: There’s been an accident on the freeway involving a big rig truck, a school bus, and multiple private vehicles. For a brief moment, time stands still. Something really is coming. The ED staff then ignites into motion, the unit preps, and they wait.

Disaster. A concept that occurs rapidly, is often difficult to predict, causes much suffering, and results in tremendous loss. Are these the stories of an impending category five super typhoon, a high school with a gun scare, and an everyday emergency department responding to an accident? Or, are these the stories of an emergency broadcast practice drill for a typhoon warning, a high school during an earthquake exercise, and a practice disaster preparedness simulation in an emergency department? Can you tell the difference and does that difference really matter?

Natural disasters, terrorism, disease outbreak….. As it can be challenging to predict when disaster might strike, preparation is truly a necessary and a life-saving skill. This year, throw a disaster preparedness holiday party and invite the people that you love! Constructing a plan, designating an out of town point person, and teaching family members to text creates a strong communication/safety framework.

Get creative and have everyone in your family fill out a family emergency plan. The plan should be easily accessible and in both electronic and printed out versions., as technology may not function during a disaster. Plan ahead for technology trouble and by designating both in town and out of town emergency communication captains and make sure to teach family members how to text.

The next portion of the party can be dedicated to creating a shopping list of supplies. Your home disaster kit could include food, water, first aid, medicines, batteries, matches, flashlights, chargers, pet supplies, baby supplies, and whatever else you deem is important to your family! If you have children and/or pets, you may want to consider packing some games.

After constructing a communication plan and home disaster kit, add some action to the emergency preparedness party. Zombie Apocalypse offers an innovative way at looking at disaster preparedness via a creative graphic novel approach. The Red Cross features a wide variety of mobile Apps that range from basic first aid to floods and earthquakes. Lastly, the CDC also offers an array of social media resources to help educate and provide response guidance through emergency/disaster situations.

This holiday season, consider throwing a brief disaster planning party for your loved ones! While it may not be possible to predict or prevent a disaster or emergency, being prepared increases chances for survival. Just as plans are constructed for dinners, vacations, and retirement; time for a family disaster plan is worth investing in. Each day spent with loved ones is a gift.

What better way to show you care, than planning for a future where you will be there.

 

 

 

Listen: Hear pediatric nurse practitioner Kristi Westphaln share some important holiday safety tips that can help families, friends, and pets stay safe this holiday season! These HealthCetera hip tips focus on preventing infections, accidental ingestions, and injuries.

Holiday tip #1- don’t get sick. Some of the best ways to avoid illness this holiday season include hand washing, getting a flu shot, and making wise dietary choices. Holiday tip #2- know your holiday home hazards because child- proofing is always in season. Holiday tip #3- keep your pets safe from toxic exposures. Candies, chocolates, and alcoholic beverages aren’t great for kids, and can be even more unfortunate for pets! The grand goals of navigating the holidays remain staying jolly and avoiding folly. Happy Holidays from our HealthCetera Family to yours!